As an adult, I moved away from the familiar things I knew as a young boy growing up along Spain Creek. I served in the United States Army, and thus had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States and the Pacific area of the world. Some of my fondest memories are associated with my time in service.
During my military career, I had the great good fortune, and many golden opportunities to enjoy exceptional duty assignments. While stationed at Fort Drum, New York, I was invited to write my definition of an Army family in competition with many other non-commissioned officers. Here is what I submitted:
What Is An Army Family?
© 1993 Ralph Lowell Coleman, Jr.
An Army Family is…
…awakening early in the morning and turning off the alarm clock before it sounds, so the rest of the family isn’t awakened.
…dressing in a PT uniform in a semi-darkened room, and trying to leave the house without disturbing the kids…or the dog.
…returning home a short time later to find your companion bustling around the kitchen, the kids headed out to school, and the trash pick-up man just two doors down the street.
…trying to find a clean towel and washcloth as part of that “personal hygiene” time, and showering in a bathroom mined with Barbie dolls and rubber ducks.
…wondering who used your personal toothbrush to polish the sink’s chrome fixtures.
…looking everywhere for your BDU cap, only to eventually find it on your youngest son’s head, as he soundly sleeps in his bed.
...lacing up your combat boots on which your pre-teen son practiced his “spit-shining” techniques last night.
…thinking about the other son…the eldest…who is on the other side of the continent, pursuing “higher education” and the girls.
…participating in Youth Activities and Boy Scouts, band concerts and school open houses, volunteer work, and religious observances.
…short good-byes, and long separations when those “unaccompanied tours of duty” demand sacrifices of everyone.
…friendships which date back over nearly two decades, and a kaleidoscope of military posts here and across the seas.
…going to bed at night, mentally exhausted and bone-tired, but ready…and willing…to face it all again in the morning.
An Army family is…love, and service, and dedication, and commitment, and sacrifice, and joy, and sorrow, and friendships, and compassion, and pride, and patriotism, and…oh, so many memories!
Thank you to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and to their loved ones who support them as they continue to “protect and defend.”
I was fortunate to win the writing competition.
My wife and I received an all-expenses-paid weekend vacation at a resort along the Saint Lawrence River, New York.